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Public Meeting on Kensington Streetlights Dispute

Officials and PG&E representatives will provide information and take questions from the public at a meeting Thursday night on the controversy over replacement of Kensington's lantern-style streetlights with generic "cobra head" steel

A public meeting will be held at the Kensington Community Center Thursday night to discuss the controversial removal of Kensington's old lantern-style streetlights on wood poles.

A number of residents complained in late July when PG&E began removing the distinctive old streetlights on wood poles and replacing them with generic "cobra head" lights on shiny steel poles. The lights line Arlington Avenue, the township's main thoroughfare.

The meeting at the Community Center, located at 59 Arlington Ave., will be held from 6:30-8 p.m.

Hosting the meeting is Contra Costa Costa County Supervisor John Gioia. Information will be provided by representatives from PG&E and the Contra Costa County Public Works Department. The public works department oversees streets in unincorporated Kensington.

PG&E, which owns and maintains the lights, said the wood poles on the city's main street, Arlington Avenue, were old and needed replacing for safety reasons, which no one seems to dispute. The reason people got upset was that the new poles PG&E began putting in were not one of the decorative styles that PG&E offers.

PG&E said the county's public works department, which oversees streets in unincorporated Kensington, opted for the "standard" cobra-head poles instead of choosing decorative poles available from PG&E.

County officials said the decorative poles were too short and too dim for the safety needs of the Arlington, but some residents asked why short decorative poles are okay for the adjoining stretch of the Arlington in Berkeley but not Kensington.

After Gioia raised questions about the replacement, PG&E halted work pending further discussion. Most of the old poles had already been replaced.

A copy of the meeting agenda from Gioia's office is attached to this article.

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